Saturday, May 4, 2013

More Weekly Comics: May 1, 2013

Red She-Hulk #65 (Marvel) - When Jeff Parker changed this title over to focus on the newly Hulked-out Betty Ross instead of her father, the Red Hulk, I hoped he'd take the opportunity to really explore what Betty's feeling about her new form, her ex-husband, her father, anything. Instead, he's thrown her into a pulpy sci-fi spy thriller with Machine Man as her sidekick, delving into the secret history of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and drawing on some of the mythology established by Jonathan Hickman) while Betty tries to prevent a horrible future she'd glimpsed in a vision. It's pretty fun and usually has some high-concept thrills in each issue; here it's a secret base hidden within Mount Rushmore and defended by a quartet of the computer intelligences modeled after some of the worst Marvel villains. Not an especially deep title, but usually a fun one. The art suffers this issue, though, with three artists contributing some shaky and inconsistent work.

Snapshot #4 (Image) - This Andy Diggle/Jock miniseries, originally serialized in Judge Dredd Megazine, comes to a strong end. It hasn't been the flashiest or most memorable comic, but it's been a low-key, twisty mystery with a hook rooted in modern economics and politics. In the end, it's turned out to be one young man's gradual understanding that the world is a fucked-up place and that his confidence in the system and its rules was somewhat misplaced. The book's arc has been pretty interesting, starting with a seemingly ordinary mystery and gradually peeling back more and more layers until it seems as though the whole of society is implicated. This final issue is especially unforgiving, rejecting any possibility of falling back on the law or the usual authorities, even after holding out some hope that a conventional good-guys-save-the-day ending might be in the offing. Meanwhile, Jock's black-and-white art is more stunning than ever, at times approaching the dark density of Frank Miller at his most deranged, but mostly opting for a stark, edgy style with his line art scratched out of big swaths of white space.

Thanos Rising #2 (Marvel) - This is just unnecessary. Do we really need to know that Thanos had a troubled childhood? That his path to cosmic villainhood included the usual serial killer progression of experimenting on animals before moving on to people? That he kills because he had "too much love in [his] heart, and no place to put it"? Jason Aaron's origin story for the villain, intended as a prelude to upcoming cosmic events like Jonathan Hickman's Infinity, sticks strictly to the formulaic and the familiar, turning Thanos into a kind of purple-skinned Dexter. Simone Bianchi makes it look great, at least, though that final page pin-up of Thanos about to unleash his new talents on his skimpily dressed mother is disturbingly sexualized.

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